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purr doctor
purr doctor, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 1053
Experience:  11yrs in feline-only medicine/surgery.
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My cat is suddenly exhibiting some strange movements. He was

Customer Question

My cat is suddenly exhibiting some strange movements. He was resting on the floor, when he had a series of head bobs to his right. Almost like he was falling asleep, but it was too quickly to be that. My wife also said today he did something else that was kind of strange - opening his jaw a few times as if to swallow but he wasn't eating. Can you helps us to understand what might be wrong? Otherwise he seemed fine this morning, lots of running and jumping around. I have had a concern for sometime that he is underweight. He is skinny, despite a good appetite, but he has always been very skinny, with irregular bowel movememts.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  purr doctor replied 5 years ago.

Hello-

I am sorry your cat isn't well and I would be glad to help you.

I have a few questions:

 

Is your cat tested for leukemia and AIDS?

Does he go outdoors?

Has he been fully wormed?

By irregular bowel movements do you mean in frequency or abnormal consistency?

What food do you feed?

 

Thanks and I will wait for your response.

 

 

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
He was a semi-feral cat that we took in when he was about 6 months old. We had him tested for leukemia and aids and he did not test positive. He was wormed when we took him in at that time. All of this was done about 1.5 years ago. Strangely he was initially diagnosed with feline herpes, but then when he was tested againg 6 months later it did not show up. As for abnormal frequency, I mean that sometimes it is 1.5 to 2 days before he passes a bowel movement.
We feed him wet food, it's called Ultra Performatrin from Pet Value store. Once or twice a week, we give him a small piece of raw beef. He has not been outside since we took him in 1.5 years ago. But he we live on a ground floor and he his able to sit at the screen of a window which is at ground level with the outside.
Expert:  purr doctor replied 5 years ago.

Hi again-

Thanks for the additional information.

 

Unfortunately, with his vague symptoms, this could be indicative of many things, or maybe nothing at all. If only they could talk!

 

The head bobs to the right could have been a very mild seizure or just a muscle spasm. Sometimes movements such as these indicate neurological (central nervous system) involvement. Epilepsy, although rare in cats, is usually noted before they turn 5 years of age.

 

The opening of the mouth can indicate oral pain (a bad tooth) or pressure felt in the head (eustachian tube problems, inner ear infections, headache, retrobulbar (behind the eye) abscess. Cats also have a smell organ (vomeronasal organ) on the roof of their mouths. When they smell something strong or stimulating, they will partially open their mouth to enhance the smell.

 

Herpes is a respiratory virus that many cats are positive for. In young cats, it causes typically cold symptoms. In adult cats, it usually settles in one eye and will cause that eye to be slightly squinty or weepy on and off, usually their whole life. Testing is rarely done because it doesn't change anything....there is no cure, at least currently. It wouldn't be the cause of what you are describing.

 

If you notice he does the head bob movement again, I would recommend you have him seen by your vet. If you need a vet who is good with cats, try www.catvets.com. Some diseases of the central nervous system that are common in cats would be FIP and toxoplasmosis. There are many others, including some parasites, bacteria, and viruses. Inner ear disease can cause vestibular problems and abnormal head movements so make sure your vet also looks all the way into the ears.

 

Although cats are strict carnivores and I am thrilled that you feed only canned as this is the current recommendation for all cats, I would not feed the beef, especially raw, unless it is organic. I am a big fan of raw food, but with all the hormones, antibiotics, and grains that we feed our beef, it is extremely unhealthy and usually tainted with millions of bacteria.Organic beef, by definition, comes from much healthier animals. Beef is also not a natural food source for cats, so I tend to recommend sticking with the poultry meats (chicken, turkey, quail, etc). The best website to learn about what cats should be eating is www.catinfo.org. Most specialists are recommending the information on it.

 

The bowel movement frequency you describe is within normal for many cats.

 

Below I will attach the nutritional info we use at our feline only clinic.

 

I hope this helps. Please let me know if notice any other symptoms or have any other questions.

 

 

High Protein/ Low Carb (grain-free) diets


Nutritionally speaking, cats are "obligate carnivores". This means they need very high levels of protein to thrive and don't have a very good ability for utilizing carbohydrates (grains, sugars). Cats also need some nutrients that can only be obtained from animal tissue, not plants. By ancestry, cats are descendents of desert cats (African wild cat, F. lybica). This is why they have very concentrated urine and don't need to drink as much as other species of similar size. In the wild, cats hunt primarily small rodents and birds as prey. All these creatures are about 70% moisture. This is how wild cats get most of their water requirements.

 

Now let's think about what we typically feed our cats over their lifetime. They usually get most of their food in the form of dry kibble. Some people feed canned food but rarely exclusively. This traditional way of feeding cats presents two major problems as discussed below.

 

First, most of the common brands of cat foods are full of carbohydrates in the form of grains (corn, rice, soy, wheat). As "obligate carnivores", cats aren't designed to use high levels of carbohydrates for nutrition. Cats specifically do not have the enzymes in their liver or saliva that are optimal to process carbohydrates. Their mouths, teeth, digestive tracts, pancreas, and liver are specifically designed for a high protein diet. So why are most pet food companies putting so many grains (carbs) into cat food? The answers could be many including convenience, larger profit margins, or the mistaken conception that cats are small dogs. When reading the ingredient label on food, a meat source is usually listed first but this doesn't mean the diet is high protein. If the next several ingredients are a form of grain (listed above), this is a high carbohydrate food. Plants do contain protein, but for an obligate carnivore like cats, this is a lower quality protein. Animal based proteins have biologic values (a measure of usability) ranging from 100% (egg) to 78% (beef). Plant based proteins range from 67% (soybean) to 45% (corn).

 

What does a carbohydrate loaded diet mean in the long run to your cat? High carbohydrates can predispose to obesity, just like in people. Diabetes is common in cats and high carb diets and obesity are known to be risk factors. Obesity also leads to arthritis. Add to this scenario the typical spoiled, well-loved cat that doesn't have to "hunt" for its food, and you have a sedentary lifestyle that also increases the risk of obesity and diabetes. It is known that a high carb diet actually changes the ph level and thus the bacterial types that grow in the mouth and digestive tracts. This change in bacterial content can lead to intestinal problems in some cats. Grains can be a source of allergies for some cats too.

 

The second problem a dry diet creates is a potentially dehydrated cat. Wild cats get most of their moisture from the prey they eat (mouse=70% water). The average dry food is only 10% water. Most feline practitioners and internal medicine specialists are now recommending an exclusively canned diet since the moisture in canned food most closely mimics their natural prey. It is thought that the lack of moisture in dry diets can contribute to urinary tract disease such as cystitis, crystals, and stones.

 

Many people have been told canned food is bad for teeth and can lead to dental disease. This is only partially true. Although canned food can leave more residue on the teeth than dry food, dry food does virtually nothing to help keep the teeth clean. It would be the equivalent of your dentist telling you it is ok to eat crunchy cookies to help clean your teeth. There are a few dental diets on the market that do a better job at scraping plaque off the teeth, but they are high carb and are only minimally effective at actual cleaning. The real reason for dental disease is lack of daily care. Obviously it is difficult to get a cat to accept daily tooth brushing, but there are some "cat friendly" options available. Your veterinarian can advise you on these products.

 

So what should your cat eat for optimal health? The more moisture your cat receives, the better. If your cat loves canned food and you don't mind feeding it exclusively, it is currently thought to be the best option as it mimics their moisture requirement. Grain-free canned food is the lowest in carbohydrates. If your cat refuses to eat canned food, the grain free dry foods are still the best option nutritionally. Many cats will accept the dry food with some water added. It is imperative to have fresh water available at all times.

 

It is important to realize there is no such thing as the perfect pet food. Changing brands every once and a while or mixing brands may help ensure your cat gets the best each company has to offer. It is also good to offer variety so we don't train our cats to become finicky eaters. There are many grain free dry and canned foods on the market. High protein levels may not be advisable for select medical conditions. Please talk to your veterinarian regarding the recommendations for your cat.

 

 

High Protein/Low Carbohydrate Food Data Sheet

Please visit these company's websites for detailed information.

Protein Source

May be single or combined sources - read label to verify.

 

 

 

 

Brand - Canned Food

Kcal count

Seafood

Poultry

Beef or

Red Meat

Game

Egg Sources

Before Grain

*

X

X

X

X

Blue Buffalo Wilderness

*

X

Evanger's

*

X

X

X

X

Innova Evo

*

X

X

X

Instinct

*

X

X

X

Newman's Own Grain Free

*

X

Pinnacle

*

X

X

Wellness Core

*

X

X

Weruva

*

X

X

X

 

*Canned foods usually range about 30-40 calories per ounce with little variance between brands. These are not ranked in order.

 

Dry foods are listed with calories (kcal/cup) lowest to highest for your convenience.

Brand - Dry Food

Kcal count

Seafood

Poultry

Beef or

Red Meat

Game

Egg Sources

Taste of the Wild

390/cup

X

X

X

Before Grain

406-409/cup

X

X

Indigo Moon

450/cup

X

X

X

Instinct

474-491/cup

X

X

Wellness Core

536/cup

X

X

Orijen

540/cup

X

X

X

Pinnacle

562/cup

X

X

Blue Buffalo Wilderness

587/cup

X

X

Innova Evo

612/cup

X

X

 

 

purr doctor, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 1053
Experience: 11yrs in feline-only medicine/surgery.
purr doctor and 6 other Cat Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you... I guess that's all for now.
Expert:  purr doctor replied 5 years ago.
Ok....let me know if you need anything else or if you see any other symptoms. If you have a cell phone with video capability, and you happen to be fast enough, try to capture another incident on video. This can sometimes make a difference in a very quick diagnosis for a veterinarian :)

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